What a day. I said at the beginning of the week that it was going to be a roller coaster, culminating in Friday.
Every month, I try and take at least one day “off” work to spend in Harlow. Its a killer for the Holiday record at work but very worthwhile and means I am able to deal with those issues that cant be done over phone or email, or in the evening.
The morning starts with a nice lie in (if you call nice being jumped on by your two year old, excited that “daddy hasn’t gone to work!” and then breakfast with the Wife and daughter (which is rare in itself) marred momentarily by the fact that our heating seems to have broken down.
On to the office (leaving the indomitable Mrs J to deal with heating situation) and the first hour is taken by paperwork with my hardworking PA, responding to invitations, letters and the like and making sure the diary till Easter is “right”
Then its time to stop and have a meeting with the Chairman of the local Hospital trust, who wants to talk to me about how far they have got with their Foundation trust application. It’s always good to hear that the hospital are doing well, and important that leaders of big organisations in Harlow take the time to sit down and have a coffee and “catch up” – sharing intelligence and just briefing each other pays dividends in the end.
Then on to a meeting with the Head of Regeneration, an area that I have put top of the councils priorities. As you will have read me say before, Harlow is aging all at the same time, and many bits of it really do look over 60 years old. We need to regenerate the “experimental planning” of the 50’s and 60’s now, or risk handing little on to the next generation of use.
Lunch is outside of the civic centre, as I want to discuss the Conservative party plans for fighting the by-election, and rightly we are not able to use the council building for party political reasons. It may be a small difference to some but it’s a big issue for me, so I eat just a few steps away from the civic.
At half two I put my leader of the council hat back on and it’s down to “the grove” for the end of Harlow’s first ever Youth Conference, organised by the Youth Council. I am there to participate in a Question Time style panel session, with The Labour MP, the youngest Harlow Councillor Joel Charles, a police officer and a youth worker amongst others; all chaired by the Chairman of the Council Tony Hall. The questions are superb, showing a lot of thought, and range from “Wouldn’t it be better to legalise drugs and remove dealers from the streets” to “Why do the papers only report bad things about young people? We are not all bad”. The latter question prompts some considerable anger from the young people in the audience, members of the youth council, the young Essex assembly, the princes trust and representatives of each school council, are all very upset that the local press didn’t turn up to see or report on the event, and conclude that the press only like bad news stories about young people. Overall it is a wonderful conference and I hope the first of many!
From there it is a dash back to the civic centre (my thanks to Cllr Charles for the lift!) and a meeting with the Chairman and Chief Executive of Harlow Renaissance Limited, to clarify some challenges I set them recently as part of their ongoing business plan. Its a good meeting, and I always feel excited when we talk about regeneration of Harlow.
From there its off to the Latton Bush centre, which Harlow conservatives have hired for the Evening for a party meeting followed by the AGM of the party.
All in all a good but exhausting day. My wife jokes moments ago – “did you have a good days holiday?”
Would it be too sad to say “yes”……?